On Friday, I had a meeting with Prof. Ed Brown about him potentially being my senior thesis advisor as well as deciding what the thesis would actually be. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous for the two days before the meeting following that first half-begging e-mail out to him (especially since I’ve never met the man before). I couldn’t sleep the night before, which was also partially due to some Dr Pepper I had at dinner, but I was just worried that he wouldn’t like what I wanted to study, or that it was too broad or narrow (since I didn’t even really have a full idea on what I wanted to study either), or he didn’t have the time to advise a student or already had too many students to advise. Yes, I commonly think about the worst that could happen first, then gradually improve my outlook.
I had read a few (three) papers involving r-process nucleosynthesis, all of which revolved around the simulation of the supernovae and various variables that could lead to or prevent the r-process from occurring in the simulation. Each one looked at slightly different areas, so I figured that would give me a good base for discussion with Prof. Brown so that I didn’t look like a total idiot.
Well, after stumbling over my words and trying to defend myself to prevent him from dropping me, we discussed what my first courses of action would be (get acquainted with Fortran, read a handful of papers and notes he’s e-mailing me, etc.) that will carry me through the first month(s). We also settled on a topic, at least tentatively, which means that I’m not learning all of this all for naught! The only thing left to make it official is to fill out the PA Department form for the thesis topic, get it signed by him and Prof. Smith, turn that in, and start doing the actual work (downloading and installing a bunch of things right now to make things work).
What is the topic, you ask? Well, right now, it’s a methods-based research topic centered on two different reaction networks. I will be developing and programming a driver program (most likely in either Python or Fortran, although it could end up being a mix between the two) and comparing the end results, based on inputted variables, between the two reaction networks. This will be the first time where my programming abilities will have to be used, and I’m really excited about that!
Also, I think that I’m going to like using Fortran…